Unless you’re the rare man who fancies a full beard, the morning shave is one personal care routine you can’t escape. And whether you see it as a monotonous chore or an onerous task rife with nicks, cuts, and razor burn, you probably don’t think of shaving as a meditative ritual.
But maybe it’s high time for an about-face.
“With the right steps, the shaving routine can awaken you beautifully,” says Ole Henriksen, founder of the eponymous skincare line. Once you have your routine down, this five-minute ritual can help you start the day with rejuvenated skin and a calm state of mind.
Even if you don’t shave every day, our shaving primer will keep your skin in top shape for when you do break out the blade.
1. Prepare your space. Make sure your bathroom is brightly lit. Fill your sink a third of the way with warm water and add 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. “Eucalyptus is naturally antiseptic and a great circulation stimulator,” says Henriksen. “It will help warm up and prepare the skin.”
2. Soak it up. Dip a terry face cloth into the blend and place it on your face. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for 10 seconds to let go of any tension in your neck and shoulders. The warmth from the cloth not only softens the skin to expose the hair roots but also opens the nasal passages for easier breathing and a more relaxing experience.
3. Forget the foam. Apply a natural shaving cream to the neck and facial-hair area. Don’t use the foamy stuff drugstores sell, because it contains a dangerous chemical known as phenol, says Maoshing Ni, LAc, DOM, PhD, author of Second Spring (Free Press, 2009). Found in conventional laundry soaps and household cleaners, phenol will irritate the skin, and it’s especially dangerous for men. “Since men use shaving creams around the mouth, they have a higher risk for accidentally swallowing some,” explains Ni. “Even ingesting small amounts can lead to serious respiratory problems and even respiratory failure in extreme cases.”
It’s much safer—and more nourishing for the skin—to use inexpensive alternatives like coconut oil and almond oil; they both lather well and bind to hair for a nice, smooth shave, says Ni.
4. Shave in style. Be sure to glide the razor in the direction of the hair. “If you shave against the grain, you can irritate or cut your skin,” says Henriksen. Keep your wrist relaxed and move the blade slowly and smoothly over the hair.
Got a few sags and bags? Pull the skin taut by pushing down on your neck with your left hand while you lean your head back. Rinse the razor in the eucalyptus mixture every few strokes.
5. Add a splash. After shaving, you want to tighten pores and tone skin. But forget traditional aftershave. “Most aftershaves contain alcohol, which dries the skin,” says Ni. Try natural options like Pevonia Botanica Soothing After Shave Balm with arnica and green tea, or Ilike After Shave Gel with calendula and aloe. Or make your own: Mix one part tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar to 10 parts water. If you’re rushed, a splash of cold water does the trick.